True Honesty

I’ve linked here and there to Brad Blanton’s Rad­i­cal Hon­esty site, and I strong­ly rec­om­mend that just about any­one read the book of the same name. I am indebt­ed to my cho­sen broth­er Ron for rec­om­mend­ing the book to me, but I have to admit that it took me a cou­ple of attempts to read it—like so many things, I had to wait until I was ready to hear its mes­sage. Today, I strive to prac­tice full hon­esty in all of my rela­tion­ships, but I hes­i­tate to talk about prac­tic­ing rad­i­cal hon­esty because it has gar­nered some neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions due to mis­un­der­stand­ings.

Prac­tic­ing true hon­esty doesn’t mean being an ass­hole. It means being hon­est in the spir­it of love. You don’t throw what Ron calls “truth bombs,” you tell the truth with com­pas­sion, and stick around for any fall­out. If some­one says, “What do you think of my speech?” and it was ter­ri­ble, you don’t say, “It was fine, hon­ey,” because it wasn’t. Nei­ther do you say, “That sucked.” You say, “I don’t think it expressed your point very well,” or “I feel that it wasn’t your best work. Would you like me to help you pre­pare next time?” or what­ev­er (if you’re will­ing to help, any­way). And you lis­ten.

By lying, I mean either stat­ing or imply­ing some­thing that isn’t true, or isn’t whol­ly true, or with­hold­ing the truth about some­thing. In the con­text of rela­tion­ships, I don’t per­son­al­ly think it’s vital to share every thought that cross­es our minds, but if some­thing affects the rela­tion­ship in any way, it needs to be shared. If your part­ner has bad breath you need to say so, right away. If you over­spent on gro­ceries and can’t put gas in the car, you need to say so, right away. If you’re find­ing your­self very attract­ed to a co-work­er, that’s some­thing to share. Yes, there’s going to be a reac­tion, but in every case it’s health­i­er for the rela­tion­ship to get things out in the open than to with­hold the truth.

When you lie to any­one with whom you’re in rela­tion­ship, you have to lie to your­self first to some extent. You have to lie about the fact that it won’t mat­ter, or that you won’t get caught out, or somet­ing, but you have to lie to your­self, and it hurts you some­how if you aren’t bro­ken inside. (If you’re a sociopath, psy­chopath, nar­cis­sist, etc. you’re beyond the scope of this arti­cle.)

Not only do you hurt your­self, but you put ener­gy into hid­ing what­ev­er it is that you lied about, and keep­ing up with your lies. It pre­vents inti­ma­cy, because there’s some­thing com­ing between you. Telling the truth is sim­pler and takes less ener­gy, and doesn’t get in the way of inti­ma­cy.

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